In most cases the cause is atherosclerosis, the build-up of fatty deposits within the blood vessel that reduces blood flow to the area. Commonly this occurs in the body where a blood vessel kinks or subdivides. Apart from fatty deposits, other causes of peripheral vascular disease include:
- Diabetes – high blood sugar damages and weakens blood vessels, causing them to narrow.
- Obstruction – a blood clot (thrombus) may lodge within the blood vessel.
- Infection – can cause scarring and narrowing of the blood vessels. Syphilis or salmonellosis, for example, can lead to peripheral vascular disease.
- Arteritis – inflammation of arteries. Some autoimmune diseases can cause arteritis.
- Blood vessel defects – blood vessels may be unusually narrow at birth. The cause is unknown.
- Blood vessel spasms – conditions such as Raynaud’s disease may cause narrowing of blood vessels in response to certain factors, including cold temperatures or stress.
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